Douro trip 2012

 

Douro Tour -May 6-14, 2012

Portugal Wine Club

 

This trip with the Portugal Wine Club was a much anticipated trip as our previous trip to the Alentejo in 2010 was very successful. It will be difficult to relate all of our experiences, but I hope to provide a synopsis and transmit the richness of our experience in the Douro.

 

We departed on May 6 for Porto and transferred Peso da Regua by coach bus where we stayed at Hotel Regua Douro. As we arrived there in the afternoon after an overnight flight, we rested during the afternoon. All rooms had a river views and the dining room presented spectacular views of the Douro. It was apparent why this region has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Some of us explored Regua that afternoon and discovered that there was an exposition at the Museum of the Douro featuring Dona Antonia Adelaide Ferreira. She was an iconic personality in the Douro and of the Ferreira brand. This was quite an interesting collection as it had artifacts from her house and gave us an idea of what life was like in the Douro in the 1800’s.

 

Day  1-

Our first stop was to Alves De Sousa where we were greeted by the producer, Domingos, and his son Tiago Alves De Sousa.  It had rained hard the night before and we were unable to see the vineyard. We were given a tour of the winery and a tasting featuring their best wines.  These included an interesting and different semi-dry white port, four reds and a vintage port. We were treated to very highly ranked wines such Quinta da Gaivosa and Abandonado  that were excellent. The tasting room has views of the river, very fitting for these wines that are crafted from local varietals.

 

We returned to Regua briefly only to hop on a cruise boat to see the tiered banks of the Douro while having lunch. The boat climbed some 30 meters in a lock that allowed us to get to Pinhao, the next city upriver from Regua.  At this lock there was a hydroelectric generator.

After a brief walk around Pinhao and Vintage Hotel we returned to Regua.

 

In the evening we went to Favaios, a town known for its Moscatel wine. We were amused by how to prepare a Moscatel tonic drink that resulted in many being sprayed with tonic water. They had prepared a very interesting tour of their facility, a tasting and a dinner with entertainment.  We were surrounded by very large vats containing old Moscatel wine.

 

Day 2

In the morning we went to Lamego and visited an historic  shrine at its hilltop known as Senhora dos Remedios, on the way to Raposeira, where sparkling wine is made. We were given a tour of this facility, their aging area, literally caves with bats which is built into the rock , and a tasting of their various grades of Brut and semi-sweet sparking wines made in the traditional method.

 

The next winery was Quinta do Seixo, an award winning enotourism facility, at one time part of the Ferreira estates, now belonging to Sandeman. This brand is now owned by Sogrape. Their new tasting/dining room faces the Douro and was a splendid backdrop for lunch and pictures. A tasting of their port wines prior to lunch was then followed by a splendid lunch featuring their table wines.

 

The evening was spent at Quinta do Crasto. This is a spectacular property providing a lesson in the history of viticulture in the Douro.  Their vineyards are sculpted from the riverbanks in the three methods used. They have undertaken the genetic study of the genetics of their vineyard  only to discover a new varietal not previously documented as well as variations of  existing native varietals. We were treated to appetizers while looking onto the very blue Douro River while sipping on Quinta do Crasto White Wine. A delicious traditional Portuguese dinner was accompanied by 3 reds: Quinta do Crasto Red, Crasto Superior, and Quinta do Crasto Old Vines. We tried their olive oils as well. These were also excellent. We had Port to complete the evening and then crawl back to our awaiting bus. Fortunately our driver didn’t have as much to drink.

 

What a busy day and this was only our second!

 

Day 3

This day was our transfer day to Porto. But this would not simply be a day in the bus.  Our first stop was at Quinta do Portal, located near Sabrosa. This winery was designed by Siza Vieira, an internationally awarded architect and was truly an impressive structure covered incork tile. This property produces table wines, Port wine, and also Moscatel. They also have a hotel to cater to wine tourism. We tasted some of their  fine tawny ports and many of us purchased these wines.

Lunch was had at the Pousada do Marao. The dining room vistas took full advantage of the Marao Mountain. We were given the opportunity to try Red Vinho Verde, which is generally not available in Toronto.

Quinta da Aveleda was our next stop, well known for their Vinho Verde and old Aguardente, but not just. They have a property with a beautiful garden and majestic trees.

 

Day 4

This day started out with a guided tour of Porto. We visited the different areas of the city and had lunch on riverside in Gaia. This is where all the Port wine producers do their blending and storage. From there we went to the Amorim Cork Factory. It was very interesting to learn about the history of the company and its long family-owned tradition. We were educated on the sourcing and production of cork stoppers for wine bottles. We were given a tour of the entire fabrication process and witness this from raw material to finished corks!

The evening was spent at the Taylor’s cellars. They are located somewhat up the hill in Gaia, which provided specatular views of Porto in the evening. After a tour of their facility and a blind tasting competition of 8 ports, we were treated to quite a dinner. Most of us agreed this was definitely one of the high points of our trip.

 

Day5

A tour of Palacio da Brejoeira, where we tasted their estate Alvarinho Vinho Verde, was followed by a guided tour of Guimaraes and Braga.

Dinner was at our discretion, and many of us chose to go to Matosinhos where the fish is always very fresh.

 

Day 6

This day was for shopping, resting, and perhaps visiting with old friends.

 

Day 7

After a memorable trip, replete with excellent weather, great food, fantastic wines, good company, and warm hospitality we reluctantly packed our bags for the long flight back during which we were able to ponder our recent adventures and contemplate our next wine trip to Portugal!

We wanted to express our gratitude to Mr. J. Duarte of JM Vacations and the directors of Portugal Wine Club for their efforts in organizing a great trip.

 

 

 

 

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